The Hajj is the fifth pillar of Islam, a mandatory duty for Muslims that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime. The pilgrimage to Makkah (the Hajj) is an obligation only for those who are physically and financially able to do so. Nevertheless over two million people go to Makkah each year from every corner of the globe providing a unique opportunity for those of different nations to meet one another. Hajj is a demonstration of solidarity of the Muslim people and their submission to Allah. The word itself means “to intend a journey”.
The annual Hajj begins in the twelfth month of the Islamic year (which is lunar, not solar, so that Hajj and Ramadan fall sometimes in summer and sometimes in winder). Pilgrims wear special clothes: simple garments that strip away distinctions of class and culture, so that all stand equal before God.
|Sahih Al-Bukhari – Book 25 – Hadees 1519|
|The Prophet (ﷺ) was asked, “Which is the best deed?” He said, “To believe in Allah and His Apostle.” He was then asked, “Which is the next (in goodness)?” He said, “To participate in Jihad in Allah’s Cause.” He was then asked, “Which is the next?” He said, “To perform Hajj-Mabrur. “||حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ الْعَزِيزِ بْنُ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ، حَدَّثَنَا إِبْرَاهِيمُ بْنُ سَعْدٍ، عَنِ الزُّهْرِيِّ، عَنْ سَعِيدِ بْنِ الْمُسَيَّبِ، عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ قَالَ سُئِلَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم أَىُّ الأَعْمَالِ أَفْضَلُ قَالَ ” إِيمَانٌ بِاللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ ”. قِيلَ ثُمَّ مَاذَا قَالَ ” جِهَادٌ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ ”. قِيلَ ثُمَّ مَاذَا قَالَ ” حَجٌّ مَبْرُورٌ ”.|
|Surah Al-Baqara Ayah 196|
|And fulfil the pilgrimage and ´Umra for Allah. And if ye be besieged, offer whatsoever offering be easy, and shave not Your heads, until the offering reacheth its destination. Then whosoever of you sick or hath hurt in his head, for him is a ransom by fasting or alms or a rite. Then when ye are secure, whosoever combinoth ´Umra with the pilgrimage, for him is whatsoever offering be easy. And whosoever cannot afford then for him is a fast of three days during the pilgrimage and of seven when ye return these are ten days complete. That is for him whose family dwell not near the Sacred Mosque. And fear Allah, and know that verily Allah is severe in chastising.||وَأَتِمُّوا الْحَجَّ وَالْعُمْرَةَ لِلَّهِ ۚ فَإِنْ أُحْصِرْتُمْ فَمَا اسْتَيْسَرَ مِنَ الْهَدْيِ ۖ وَلَا تَحْلِقُوا رُءُوسَكُمْ حَتَّىٰ يَبْلُغَ الْهَدْيُ مَحِلَّهُ ۚ فَمَنْ كَانَ مِنْكُمْ مَرِيضًا أَوْ بِهِ أَذًى مِنْ رَأْسِهِ فَفِدْيَةٌ مِنْ صِيَامٍ أَوْ صَدَقَةٍ أَوْ نُسُكٍ ۚ فَإِذَا أَمِنْتُمْ فَمَنْ تَمَتَّعَ بِالْعُمْرَةِ إِلَى الْحَجِّ فَمَا اسْتَيْسَرَ مِنَ الْهَدْيِ ۚ فَمَنْ لَمْ يَجِدْ فَصِيَامُ ثَلَاثَةِ أَيَّامٍ فِي الْحَجِّ وَسَبْعَةٍ إِذَا رَجَعْتُمْ ۗ تِلْكَ عَشَرَةٌ كَامِلَةٌ ۗ ذَٰلِكَ لِمَنْ لَمْ يَكُنْ أَهْلُهُ حَاضِرِي الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ ۚ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللَّهَ شَدِيدُ الْعِقَابِ|
The present pattern of Hajj is established by Prophet (pbuh), the rites of the haj, which are of Abrahamic origin date back thousands of year (aournd 2000 BCE). According to Islamic tradition, Abraham was ordered by God to leave his wife Hagar and his son Ismail alone in the desert of ancient Mecca. In search of water, Hagar desperately ran seven times between the two hills of Safa and Marwah but found none. Returning in despair to Ishmael, she saw the baby scratching the ground with his leg and a water fountain sprang forth underneath his foot. Later, Abraham was commanded to build the Kaaba (which he did with the help of Ishmael) and to invite people to perform pilgrimage there. The Quran refers to these incidents in verses 2:124-127 and 22:27-30.
|Surah Al-Baqarah (The Cow) Ayah 124|
|And recall what time We appointed the House a resort unto man kind and a place of security and said: take the station of Ibrahim for a place of prayer. And We covenanted with Ibrahim and Ismai´l, saying: purify ye twain My Houses for those who shall circumambulate it and those who shall stay, and those who shall bow down and prostrate themselves.||وَإِذْ جَعَلْنَا الْبَيْتَ مَثَابَةً لِلنَّاسِ وَأَمْنًا وَاتَّخِذُوا مِنْ مَقَامِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ مُصَلًّى ۖ وَعَهِدْنَا إِلَىٰ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَإِسْمَاعِيلَ أَنْ طَهِّرَا بَيْتِيَ لِلطَّائِفِينَ وَالْعَاكِفِينَ وَالرُّكَّعِ السُّجُودِ|
It is said that the archangel Gabriel brought the Black Stone (Hajr-e-Aswad) from Heaven to be attached to the Kaaba. In pre-Islamic Arabia, a time known as jahiliyyah, the Kaaba became surrounded by pagan idols. In 630 CE, Muhammad led his followers from Medina to Mecca, cleansed the Kaaba by destroying all the pagan idols, and then reconsecrated the building to Allah. In 632 CE, Muhammad performed his only and last pilgrimage with a large number of followers, and instructed them on the rites of Hajj. It was from this point that Hajj became one of the five pillars of Islam.
The date of Hajj is determined by the Islamic calendar. Hajj starts on the 8th of month of Zil-Hajj and ends on the 12th.
When the pilgrims reach Miqat, they enter into a state of Ihram. This consists of wearing two white seamless cloths for Men. Women’s clothing should be a dress that fits within Islamic dress covering their bodies. Ihram is meant to show equality of all pilgrims in front of Allah.
In this state, the certain ‘normal’ actions of the day and night become impermissible for the pilgrims, such as covering the head, clipping the fingernails, and wearing normal clothing in regards to men. Males remove their clothing and don the garments specific to this state of ihram, two white seamless sheets that are wrapped around the body. All this increases the reverence and sanctity of the pilgrimage, the city of Mecca, and month of Dhul-Hijjah.
There are 5 stations, one on the coastal plains northwest of Mecca towards Egypt and one south towards Yemen, while three lie north or eastwards towards Medina, Iraq and al-Najd. The simple garb signifies the equality of all humanity in God’s sight, and the removal of all worldly affections. After entering the state of ihram, the pilgrim proceeds to Mecca and awaits the start of the Hajj.
Tawaf is going around the Kaaba in counter clockwise direction. Hajj includes going around the Kaaba seven times, and going seven times between the hills of Safa and Marwa as did Hagar (Hajir, Abraham’s wife) during her search for water. The pilgrims later stand together on the side plains of Arafat (a large expanse of desert out Makkah) and join in prayer for God’s forgiveness in what is often thought as a preview of the Day of judgement.
On the 7th of Dhu al-Hijjah the pilgrim is reminded of his duties, and at the commence of the ritual, which takes place between the 8th and the 12th days of the month, the pilgrim visits the holy places outside Mecca – Arafah, Muzdalifah, and Minaa – and sacrifices an animal in commemoration of Abraham’s sacrifice. The pilgrim then shortens or shaves their head, and, after throwing seven stones at specific pillars at Minaa on three or four successive days, and heads for the central mosque where he walks seven times around the sacred sanctuary, or Kaaba, in the Great Mosque, and ambulates, walking and running, seven times between the two small hills of Mt. Safaa and Mt. Marwah.
The close of the Hajj is marked by a festival, the Eid-ul-Adha, which celebrated with prayers and the exchange of gifts in Muslim communities everywhere. This and the Eid-ul-Fitr, a festive day celebrating the end of Ramadan are the other two holidays of the Islamic calendar.
To Muslims, Hajj is associated with religious as well as social significance. Apart from being an obligatory religious duty, Hajj is seen to have a spiritual merit that provides the Muslims with an opportunity of self-renewal.
|Surah Aal-Imran Ayah 97|
|Therein are signs manifest, the station of Ibrahim. And whosoever entereth it shall be secure. And incumbent on mankind is pilgrimage to the House for that good-will of Allah: on him who is able to find a way thereunto. And whosoever disbelieveth, then verily Allah is Independent of the worlds.||فِيهِ آيَاتٌ بَيِّنَاتٌ مَقَامُ إِبْرَاهِيمَ ۖ وَمَنْ دَخَلَهُ كَانَ آمِنًا ۗ وَلِلَّهِ عَلَى النَّاسِ حِجُّ الْبَيْتِ مَنِ اسْتَطَاعَ إِلَيْهِ سَبِيلًا ۚ وَمَنْ كَفَرَ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ غَنِيٌّ عَنِ الْعَالَمِينَ|